Lawmakers debate clean energy substitutes to remove fossil fuels from strained California power grid

Courthouse News Service
By Natalie Hanson

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — California soon will not have enough energy to meet future demand and prevent outages on an increasingly strained power grid, in part due to climate change. To address the looming disaster, state lawmakers met Tuesday to discuss how to decrease reliance on fossil fuels to protect the grid from the effects of destructive wildfires and supply chain issues. 

The state Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications subcommittee discussed strategies to diversify energy resources Tuesday morning. Subcommittee chair Senator Josh Becker, a Democrat from San Mateo who has written multiple climate action bills, said extreme heat is expected to escalate strain on the power grid and the state must balance using cleaner energy sources with ensuring grid reliability.

“Climate change is anticipated to make the summer conditions more intense and frequent,” Becker said, adding more heat waves with less hydroelectric energy threaten transmission lines every year.

Mark Rothleder of the nonprofit California Independent System Operator (CAISO) — overseeing the state’s bulk electric power system, transmission lines and electricity market — said more fossil fuel resources will be retired by 2025. That year, there’s a 10% chance of a major outage during a gap in energy resources, and he recommended combining solar development and storage to meet that need. 

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